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Government Relations & Washington Update

January 2024

Congressional Leaders Reach Tentative Budget Deal
Congress returns to Washington after the holidays with a very full agenda. Fiscal year 2024 appropriations still must be resolved. Congress avoided a government shutdown in late 2023 by passing a bifurcated continuing resolution extending funding for the agricultural appropriations bill and three others to January 19th and the remaining bills through February 2nd. There was increasing uncertainty about whether Congress would be able to complete appropriations legislation prior to those deadlines. There were ongoing disagreements about topline spending levels and Republicans were also pressing for more resources to improve border security. On January 7th, Speaker Johnson announced that Congressional leaders reached an agreement on overall spending levels, setting the funding cap for the 12 appropriations bills at $1.59 trillion. The deal includes a set of budget moves pushed by Democrats to would reduce the immediate impacts of cuts on domestic programs, with the exception of accelerating $10 billion in reductions to the Internal Revenue Service and canceling $6 billion in unspent pandemic funds. The announcement paves the way for the Appropriations Committees to proceed with finalizing individual appropriations bills.  However, the agreement is likely to draw opposition from some House Republicans and a partial government shutdown is still possible as the process moves forward. Speaker Johnson has indicated that will not support additional continuing resolutions.

In addition to funding the government, Congress is facing several deadlines on key legislation in 2024. The 2018 Farm Bill was extended through September 2024, giving Congress additional time to pass a new bill. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Thompson (R-PA) has stated his goal is to complete House work on the bill in the first quarter of 2024.

NIFA Invites Public Feedback to Update Policy Guide
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced that it will be issuing an updated version of the NIFA Federal Assistance Policy Guide in 2024. Last updated in 2021, the Policy Guide provides comprehensive guidance on NIFA’s application and review processes, award notification and administration procedures, award terms and conditions, uniform administrative requirements, allowable costs, reporting requirements, close-out procedures and audit requirements.

The 2024 update to the Policy Guide will include updates related to a variety of topics, including Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200); Build America, Buy America compliance; and reporting requirements and systems (i.e., NRS, REEport). NIFA has stated that its primary goal with the next update is to make sure that this resource provides clear, accurate, up-to-date guidance on matters that are most important to NIFA stakeholders. 

As a part of the effort to update the guide, NIFA is inviting all stakeholders to submit ideas and suggestions. NIFA is asking stakeholders to review the resources found below submit feedback to by Friday, February 2, 2024. 

NIFA Announces Investment in Ag Economics and Rural Communities
On December 27th, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the investment of $12 million in Ag Economics and Rural Communities: Small and Medium-Sized Farms (A1601). Approximately 89% of farms in the U.S. are classified as small, with a gross cash farm income of less than $350,000. These farms are family-owned and operated, and can confront considerable challenges due to current trends, such as increased movement into cities, an aging population, access to capital, farm consolidation, and changing weather patterns. Family and Small farms are vital to our economy and well-being as a nation. Through this program NIFA is working to improve the economic conditions and quality of life within small family farm communities. More information on the Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities Program Area can be found by clicking HERE.